According to officials at Cox South Hospital in Springfield, Colten Smith, 18, died Wednesday night as a result of injuries suffered in a crash on Oct. 12.
Smith was a junior at West Plains High School. Superintendent Dr. Lori Wilson, in a statement issued by the district, expressed her condolences.
“The West Plains School District is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students, Colten Smith. We extend our sympathy to the family and friends as we continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” said Smith.” We have asked counselors, teachers and district administrators to help our school community cope with this loss. We are doing everything we can to help our students and our staff through this tragic experience.”
West Plains schools were out Friday for a teacher workday, but when they return on Monday, students will be encouraged to express their feelings and thoughts and reminded the grieving process has many steps, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, said Wilson.
“In such situations children sometimes exhibit behaviors including restlessness, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping and nightmares, ‘clingy’ behavior and fear of being alone, asking the same question over and over again and remembering previous losses and events,” she added. “It is our goal to provide this information to our students and parents so that together we can support our children in their grief. Our deepest condolences go out to Colten’s family and friends.”
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, on the evening of Oct. 12, Smith’s southbound GMC Sierra traveled off M Highway near Koshkonong and struck a tree. The report shows Smith was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and was thrown through the windshield, causing serious injuries.
Smith was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m. Wednesday by Dr. Gary Marklin at Cox South Medical Center in Springfield.
The fatality marks 36th in the nine-county Troop G area for 2019 compared to 34 in the same time frame last year.